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Tanzania

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Chaos in the aftermath of a church
bombing in Arusha

Christians and Muslims in Tanzania have traditionally lived together in peace, and they continue to do so in many parts of the country. But the president has said that for the first time Tanzania is facing the prospect of civil strife and division on religious lines. The past two years have seen heightened tensions, sometimes centred on the issue of animal slaughter. Muslims have attacked Christians for slaughtering and selling meat that is not halal (that is, killed according to Islamic sharia).

Church leaders are particularly liable to suffer violence. In 2013, one leader was beheaded, another shot dead, and a youth leader hacked to death, and there were machete attacks on pastors in their homes. Acid was thrown at another leader in Zanzibar. Some pastors have had to flee because of the threat to their lives. There has also been an increase in the number of attacks on churches and their buildings; for example, five people were killed and around 60 wounded when a new church building in Arusha was bombed during its inaugural service in May 2013. (Responsibility for some of these attacks is still unclear.)

Christians make up over 50% of the population of Tanzania, and the government safeguards religious freedom. The conditions on the semi-autonomous archipelago of Zanzibar, however, are very different. Islamists on Zanzibar, which is 98% Muslim, are pressing for independence from mainland Tanzania and for sharia to be applied to all the islands’ legislation. Violent attacks by Islamists on Zanzibar are becoming more frequent as tensions heighten.

The role of sharia is also being debated on the mainland. Many key posts across the country in politics, the judiciary and the security services are held by Muslims, and one senior Christian leader has said that the country could be totally Islamised in five to ten years if the Church does not make a decisive response to the threat of Islamism.

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christian, persecution, charity, church, persecuted, sookhdeo, Islam

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    • A Christian from Loynam village in the Savannakhet province of Laos was arrested on the morning of 29 May and tied to a post before being imprisoned. Two weeks earlier, police and village security officers had gone to Mr Sort’s home and threatened him with eviction from the village and confiscation of all his property if he did not give up his faith. He refused, despite repeated attempts to coerce him. The village chief then seized around £300 of Mr Sort’s money. Give thanks that our brother, who has been a Christian for less than two years, has stood firm in his faith, and ask the Lord to renew his courage and strength (1 Corinthians 16:13). Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Thu, Aug 2014 00:00

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    • Heavenly Father, we cry out to You for the Christians left in Mosul, mostly elderly and sick, as they now face the threat of sharia penalties introduced by ISIS: the amputation of limbs for thieves, crucifixion for criminals and the death penalty for apostasy. We pray that You will protect them from the brutality of the militants. We pray for peace and healing for those who have already been threatened or attacked, and for the safe return of those who have been kidnapped. We pray too for those struggling to pay the humiliating jizya tax that the militants have imposed. We ask that the attempt to restore a united Islamic state under one ruler in the cross-border territory controlled by ISIS will come to nothing. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Tue, Aug 2014 00:00

    • The militant jihadist group ISIS launched a terrifying attack on Mosul, the second city of Iraq, on 6 June. They seized weapons, freed prisoners and looted and torched church buildings. Three days later, police came to senior church leaders there and advised the Christian community to leave. They fled immediately, leaving everything behind as they sought refuge in the Nineveh valley. The following day Mosul fell to the rebels. Barnabas sent emergency aid to support the Christians in their desperate need. The militants then advanced south, prompting Christians also to leave the city of Kirkuk. Pray for provision and protection for our displaced brothers and sisters and that they will find safety in the Kurdish areas of northern Iraq. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Mon, Aug 2014 00:00

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